Earlier this week, I came home to a serious situation. My wife, who is normally bubblier than champagne in a paint shaker, had eyes full of fear and skin the color of pale when I walked in the door. Before I had a chance to ask her what was wrong, she showed me the cause of her concern.
In her hands, there was a small package, wrapped in dried chamois and adorned with a bow made from French barbwire. Our eyes met, and she whispered but one word:
Thanks to my clinical trainer riding addiction, I have received the honor, or punishment, of reviewing the next installment of pain by The Sufferfest, appropriately titled Blender.
For the un-indoctrinated, let me quickly introduce you to that which is Sufferfest. Sufferfest videos are cycling videos with built in workouts that are designed to inflict as much pain as possible on your legs. Many of their previous videos, with names like “Revolver” and Fight Club”, have already achieved infamy status. It is rumored that the movie from the film The Ring was an early version of The Sufferfest.
So how does the latest from the stewards of cycling suffering compare? Let’s just say, the best, or worst depending on how you look at it, is here.
This review is based on a pre-release copy of Blender. It did not include the recovery section at the end. I did not pay for it.
Thanks to action cameras and the world of high definition, long gone are the days of fuzzy cycling videos. The video segments in Blender look great as always and provide plenty of clarity to the suffering. Never has pain looked so good.
And the variety has been kicked up a notch. After all, you can’t have a video called Blender without a good mix. Of course, we have the typical heart pounding road racing and time trialing footage. There is also some of the infamous cyclocross footage throw in during the Revolver-esque intervals. (Yeah, you heard me right). But wait, there’s more! On top of that we also get a helpful serving of mountain biking, fat tire snow goodness (not the beer unfortunately), and track work. And yes, of course, the ladies make it in to spice things up. Blender is quite a yummy mix.
As The Sufferfest has led to the world wide expansion of riding playlists beyond Bette Midler and Bieber, (what….wait, what do you listen to then?!) we have to discuss the music. Despite being the longest video yet, a fresh set of tunes keeps things going. Personally, I find that music can be a serious stimulant during exercise, and the selections in Blender were able to keep my energy going better than a can of concentrated Contador sweat.
Finally, there is new bling. The pain interface has been ramped up significantly. Just in case you forget your prescription for intensity, there is a shiny new intensity indicator at the top right of screen. In addition, a handy countdown timer appears regularly to let you know when the suffering can stop briefly.
Finally, even the comments look better, now that they have been graphically enabled to allow for hilarious conversations among riders.
Okay, I ran a six-mile tempo less than 7 hours before this ride, so I had to dial it down some. There is no accompanying TrainerRoad workout as of yet, but the guys at TR say one should be out very soon. Fortunately, thanks to my 6.7 days of recorded time on TrainerRoad, I am good at knowing what my watts should be based on the intensity scale used in The Sufferfest videos. For my first jaunt with Blender, I dialed it down to what I think would have been a 90% IF. Here is what the damage looked like.
At 90%, this was a challenging, but not deadly workout. I didn’t feel the pain like I do during Hell Hath No Fury or Revolver, but it wasn’t easy. If you do this at 100%, I would get another bucket and two more towels. Life insurance is also recommended.
The beauty of the workout is that it encompasses many different types of training. You start of with some good steady intervals right around FTP. There are some painful attacks mingled in, but overall, the first section felt pretty much like a solid time trial. Of course, I am a triathlete, so I would say that about most of my rides.
Just when your legs get used to that though, you open them up with some quick intervals similar to Revolver. One interesting part about this section of the ride is the dichotomy of slow and fast music. It was kind of eerily creepy in a Stanley Kubrick/Stephen King way. I kind of expected to turn around and see a clown or two twin girls standing behind me.
After that, its steady repeats at FTP for a total of 12 minutes to seal the deal.
The latest video by The Sufferfest continues to deliver the same entertaining challenges we have come to expect. In addition, Blender takes the rider on a longer adventure while also bumping the visuals/interface up a notch. It’s a great new addition to the series. Or in other words, it’s really going to hurt. Drop by The Sufferfest to pick up your copy soon!
As it’s Saturday, today was another group suffer session. For our adventure, we broke out the venerable Hell Hath No Fury session. It wasn’t the best day technology wise. Webcam images were dying out left and right, our video was sluggish, and the sound quality was so bad I thought we were communicating with tin cans linked together with strings. But despite our techo fail and the constant interruptions, we got the work in:
I would show the Trainer Road data but I will admit. Its ugly. I had a hard time hitting the surges, and my ride got interrupted by a phone call at the beginning.
This is my last 2X20 before testing this week. I hope I can at least get a higher FTP after this month’s work. I have already noticed its easier to rock out the surges and much easier to hover in the upper 80% of FTP. Hopefully after this week, I can start to add more of my running and swimming back into the picture. Only about 20 weeks until Alcatraz!